How can Dental Hygienists Help Patients who are Victims of Domestic Violence?

Victims of Domestic Violence dental help

Dental hygienists generally look out for their patients’ oral health such as checking to see if they need to get a dental implant or not. However, they can extend their help further by assisting patients who are victims of domestic violence.

They can, in fact, check to see their patients’ psychological wellbeing and see if they are undergoing some emotional trauma. Digital Smile Academy’s dentistry abroad can also help check for physical signs that indicate abuse and violence.

Going through domestic violence awareness educates the dentist on how to intervene on behalf of a victim. Below are some ways dental hygienists can help patients who are victims of domestic violence.

Understanding What Is Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is an aggressive behavior within the home setting. It involves a violent spouse, partner, or parent. The victim may be an elderly person or a child. Domestic violence rarely occurs as a single incident. There are many different types of domestic violence – physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial abuse.

Identifying The Signs

During a dental appointment, the dental hygienist can observe the patient to identify the signs early enough in many opportunities. Before the appointment begins, the patient should fill out a health history card. During this time, the dental hygienist can incorporate some questions that will help them to identify the victims of abuse. Below is a list of signs that can indicate that the patient is going through domestic violence:

The patient is extremely nervous when the dental hygienist is performing a head and neck exam.

There are bruises on the body that are in different healing stages.

The story the patient gives about how they got the injury does not match the nature of the injury.

The patient’s spouse insists on being into the examination room while the patient is being examined.

The patient is putting on clothes that are not appropriate for the weather.

The Role of the Dental Hygienist

Immediately after the dental hygienist notices that the patient is going through an abuse, they should talk to him or her. Explain their concerns to the patient. Be honest with the patient and be a good listener. Listen and think critically about what the patient has said.

If the patient admits that they are being abused, contact the relevant authorities and check with the appropriate state rules to determine the legal obligation of the dental hygienist.  Everything should be documented to be used as evidence – the observations made by the dental hygienist, the discussion with the patient, and any other useful information.

Not all injuries are because of domestic violence. What may seem as physical abuse may just turn out to be injuries from being constantly clumsy, or the adult patient may be afraid of dental visits, which is why their spouse is in the same room as them. Ensure that you have all the facts confirmed first before you make a claim to the authorities about the abuse.

Conclusion

Domestic violence awareness is important to dental hygienists. It is not only their legal obligation to report any incident of violence but also a moral responsibility in general.

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